The hummers have really been scarce here this season. I would go a week and not see but maybe one male visiting the feeder, and have never seen more than two at a time the entire summer. But, Wednesday morning as I was washing up my coffee mug, I looked out to see this wonderful sight! Thankfully, my camera was on the kitchen table and I was able to quickly snap this through the window. Four beauties sharing the feeder! Now that it's almost August, they will be done with their nestlings and will be needing to gather steam for the long voyage ahead in September and October.
When I went to visit several blogs on my Google Reader list yesterday, I got the above warning which states:
"The website at (insert blog).blogspot.com contains elements from the site (www).birdingtop500.com which appears to host malware--software that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent. Just visiting a site that contains malware can infect your computer."
So, a heads up for anyone listed on the birdingtop500 website!
Two years ago, I posted about reading my first Mark Schweizer book, and though I read the first two, I never finished the series. As I was looking for some new, lighter reading for my Kindle, I was delighted to find his books are now available for Kindle at $8.45 per download, and simply HAD to finally read the entire series.
Here they are in order:
The Alto Wore Tweed
The Barritone Wore Chiffon
The Tenor Wore Tapshoes
The Soprano Wore Falsettos
The Bass Wore Scales
The Mezzo Wore Mink
The Diva Wore Diamonds
The Organist Wore Pumps
For those of you not familiar with his books, here is my original post from August 2008:
A fellow parishioner gave me this book to read. I had heard about the series before from my former choir director, but had never read any of Mark Schweizer's books. I had to be seriously careful when I was reading this before going to bed. It was so danged funny in spots that my snorting and laughing would wake up husband.
Hayden Konig is the full-time police detective, part time Episcopal choirmaster of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, and aspiring novelist who lives in St. Germaine, NC. The book revolves around a novel he is writing as well as the mystery of whodunnit in his real life job.
From Hayden's novel: "She sat on the edge of my desk, her coat falling open, revealing a tantalizing set of L.L. Bean braided suspenders. I'd seen those suspenders on sale last month, but couldn't figure a way to fit them into my continuing education budget."
and from Hayden's real life:
"The Jesus-Squeezus Rule declares that the choir of St. Barnabas will never willingly sing any anthem that rhymes any word with "Jesus." The text of the anthem that precipitated the injunction included, "Here's to Jesus, the one who frees us, just come and squeeze us." The J-Squeezus Rule was adopted unanimously by the choir and only broken once a year."
I've not laughed so much when reading a book in a very long time. This is part of a six (now EIGHT) part series of books offered by St. James Music Press and I can't wait to read the rest of them. So, if you understand the goings on of an Episcopal parish and of choirs, you will be running for the Depends when you read this. Even if you don't, it's still laugh-out-loud funny!
A few months back, I received a message on our answering machine from my husband's cousin's wife. I've only spent time with her maybe three or four times in our 20 year marriage, and most of those times were sadly at funerals when we'd all gather in their old hometown. Husband's cousin is a colorectal surgeon here in the South, and he and C have four grown children. I tried to call her back, but got her cell phone voice mail, and left her a message to call me again either at home or on my cell. I never heard from her. A week or so later, I tried once again, and still got her voice mail and left another message. I still never heard back from her. "What do you suppose C wanted?" I asked my husband.
On Saturday, we found out. Husband's brother called to say that he'd not heard from their cousin in a while (the two of them are closer in age and stay in touch more frequently) and so called him at home to chat and catch up. When he called, their oldest daughter answered the phone. She was visiting from her temporary home in Birmingham as her husband finishes up furthering his education. When my BIL told her that he'd just wanted to catch up with her dad as he'd not heard from him in a while, she filled him in on what's been going on in their lives. She said, "Well, things have been rather upside down for the past few months as both my girls have been diagnosed with autism." She has a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. Wow. Well. So that's why her mom was calling me. My BIL made sure he gave S our home phone number and told her he was sure I'd be more than happy to share our own experience with getting Sam's diagnosis.
Then again, as I digested all this, I started thinking that maybe she won't want to hear what I would need to say just yet. Believe me when I say that getting a diagnosis of autism and being told it is a "lifelong disability" brings up all sort of issues with grief and determination. You grieve that something is wrong with your beautiful child that you can't readily fix, and you become very driven to try and do just that, fix it and make it go away. It's normal I suppose and in many ways where your head has to be as you digest so much information that you become both saturated and dizzy. It can become all consuming. But at least, it replaces the agony and grief a bit.
I suppose being 15 years out from our diagnosis gives me much more perspective, and the one thing I'd tell any parent of a newly diagnosed child is not to get too caught up in the "cures" and trying to "eradicate" it from their child. Stay away from books that tout the way to "rescue your child" and instead read about the researched, tried, and true ways to help your child to learn and be the best they can be. Acceptance is a process, just like grief, and learning to incorporate it into your life so that it simply becomes your new normal is the healthier way to cope in my very humble opinion. So, I'll await the call, and I'll listen, and I'll be happy for her that in 2010, there is so much more known and so much more available than in 1995 when I was handed a box of tissues and given a pat on the back.
I saw another Spicebush Swallowtail on the butterfly bush and was smiling as I loaded these photos and saw just how much pollen he is carrying around as he goes from plant to plant. Doesn't nature have just the most perfect system for propagation?
I was watching the butterfly bush the other day when I noticed a teeny tiny flying flutterer by the Summersweet. It was an Eastern Tailed-Blue! I'd forgotten not only just how very tiny they are (about the size of a dime), but how much they flit from place to place, hardly lighting before taking off to check out other things of interest. I followed him around until he finally stopped just for a moment and was able to catch him on a bloom.
I'm sorry to say that I've finally surrendered to the spammers as well.
From now on, there will be comment moderation here so that their smarmy
comments do not sit on this blog until I can delete them. (Sigh.)
Dr. M: "The next time you come to see me for an eye exam, you'll have taken a trip to Walgreens to get some reading glasses, but be warned... once you start using them, you can't do without them."
Initially, I only used them at work to see close up to oh, remove suture from fingers? I'm sure it gave the 20 somethings pause when, removing tiny blue sutures from a lacerated thumb, I'd squint and say, "Do you see any more in there?" The glasses definitely helped, and I kept them at work.
Then, next thing you knew, for grins and giggles, I put hubby's 1.25's on when I was reading my Kindle one day just to see how "badly he saw." Lo and behold, the background was SO white! And the print was SO black. Wow. Thus, my first trip to Walgreens to find my own pair for home, which then pretty much just stayed by my Kindle.
Uh, then the newspaper started looking a bit gray around the edges? Another trip, and another purchased pair to leave on the kitchen table to read the paper. Uh-huh.
Now, there is a pair here by the computer too. And, OK, I surrender to my 48 year old sad eyes and the need for magnification. I am just simply tickled that these suckers can be purchased for $7.95 as I've already lost a pair and broken two. I know Dr. M is smiling.
I've always liked the sound of Mary Chapin Carpenter, and became a fan after hearing her CD The Calling. So, I was looking on iTunes the other day for any new offerings from her and found this wonderful CD, The Age of Miracles, released in April. Her voice is so soothing and the lyrics of her songs are so well written and sung with such feeling. Give it a listen and see what you think. Below is one of the songs on the CD, I Have a Need for Solitude.
When we purchased this home in 2006, one of the things we found rather odd was that the builder chose to install gray speckled Corian in the kitchen with a two tone tan tile backsplash. We figured it must have been on sale? Anyway, along with the cherry cabinetry, it has always looked rather odd, and over the four years we've been here, we've noticed that this Corian has not held up well, developing rings from hot plates and such.
So, one of our wish list projects was to replace the countertops at some point, and as we're doing our best to stimulate the economy, this summer is apparently the time. We debated between granite and some other surface as I'm not as big a fan of granite as hubby. I find that the heavily marbled patterns of much of it tends to be rather loud and can compete for visual attention. Since my kitchen flows into my great room and living space, I didn't want to have screaming countertops. So, we compromised on quartz. We went to Lowe's and picked out a pretty color called Toasted Almond in their DupontZodiaq collection. And, as an added bonus, it was on sale!
The countertop installers were out last Thursday to make templates, and soon we'll have countertops that actually "go" with our tile backsplash! I wanted to keep a Corian sink as I really like the one I have, and they will integrate it into the new counters. I think it will look really nice once it's all done. Stay tuned!
I was walking in the garden when I spied this Common Whitetail sunning on a rock along the terraced wall above me. I got a few shots at ground level, though when I tried to head up the steps so I'd be over him for a better view of his beautiful wings, he flew away.
It has been so very hot lately, the birds are even panting. I saw this Mourning Dove plopped down on the top of the swing in the shade trying to get some relief from the heat. I often wonder how many birds perish when conditions are this dry and hot.
Oh, the Purple Coneflower has been blooming to beat the band now! And the butterflies and bees flock to sample its goodness. I was snapping a photo of another American Lady on one of the flowers, and when I loaded the photo, was smiling as I took in the other pollen laden visitor there with her.
They may be small, but they are fun to watch. If you get a close look at them, they shimmer with all sorts of iridescent color. It was comical to see the two below chasing one another around. Maybe there's a bit of Skipper love in the garden? I think these are Sachem Skippers?
It's butterfly heaven here lately! It seems that each time I look out on the deck, I see a new visitor on the Blue Chip Butterfly bush. The other day, I was tickled to see this beautiful Spicebush Swallowtail enjoying the blooms.
I was walking into the kitchen the other day when I spotted this on the deck railing. I picked up my camera and started shooting through the window. I do believe it is a sweet juvenile Eastern Phoebe? I found after researching them that the immature birds have downy yellowish breast feathers. No tail was bobbing when I saw this one, so I couldn't be 100% sure. What do you think? Am I correct?
These are the lovely individuals who have visited and left comments with embedded links to soft core porn on my blog just this week. I've searched and searched on Blogger forums, and basically all I've learned is that there is nothing a blogger can do, other than set comments to comment moderation so that you can delete these comments before they are posted to your blog. But, I don't want to do comment moderation. Takes the spontaneity away for me. It would be the end of each day before I could "release" comments to be posted. Sort of anticlimactic for me. And, it just simply pisses me off. Google rules the world. Google can create maps which can show me windows on my house from the air for goodness sakes. So, why can't the Blogger people simply create a tic box under the comments tab that looks something like this...
DO NOT ALLOW COMMENTS WITH EMBEDDED LINKS
That would pretty much take care of it in my estimation. Simple. I turned the word verification back on a year ago, thinking that would take care of spam comments, as theoretically, the letters have to be entered in order for the comment to be published. But now it seems, these guys are actually paying people to go from blog to blog to blog leaving these cryptic comments with embedded links to porn sites. They set up an ID on Blogger, comment like crazy, and then, poof.... they are gone. Deleted profile. No way to trace or stop them it seems.
It certainly is frustrating that there is no way for a blogger to prevent this invasion of their space, other than to take the blog private or only post comments once they are approved. You'd still get the spam, but at least it would not show up on your blog. And, it also seems that there is no way to contact a human being at Blogger, only "Help Forums" to post issues to. OK, I'm done with my little rant (again) and will have to see how this goes. If it does continue at this rate, I may have to do the moderation, but I simply wish someone from Blogger would hear the frustration and create my little tic box!
* How very apropos that I awakened this morning to find two of the above mentioned spam comments on this post! Sigh.....
This little male Ruby-throat was busy feeding a good part of the day, but I was outside around dusk when I saw him quietly perched in the Crepe Myrtle taking a rest from the frenzied feeding and flying of the day.
Back in May, I planted what I hoped would be a lovely wildflower garden for the butterflies and hummingbirds. The little sprouts came up, and now I have some blooming flowers, though certainly nothing like the photo on the bag of seed. Funny how that never seems to come to fruition! Just the same, it's nice looking out to see some flowers blooming behind my swing in the feeder area. Who knows what might come up next?
I was watching this Red-spotted Purple as it sunned on my deck railing. Before I could get a photo, it flew up to land on Sam's bedroom window and I took the shot. When I loaded it, I loved the way it had cast a double shadow on the double paned glass of the window.
The sun was setting the other evening, and I saw this lovely Clouded Sulphur with the sunlight steaming through him, enjoying the butterfly bush. At least I think he's a Clouded... the Sulphurs can confuse me with their similar markings.
On the 19th, I posted about my Barn Swallows coming back this year and bringing four babies. Well, turns out the photo I captured had Mom in there with the babies, so there were only three little ones, just like last year. I watched each evening as the parents would bring the babies in to perch on the gutter above the porch for a while to be fed before bedtime. I snapped this photo above of one of them on the gutter before they got spooked and flew away.
After that, the parents must have decided to feed elsewhere, and would then show up around 9PM each night to settle them in under the porch for the night. This went on for 5 days or so, until one night, two of the babies came under the porch and landed on the end column at the far end of the porch where the parents wanted them. The third one, however, seemingly was the renegade and kept flying around. The parents tried to corral him several times, but then grew tired of his stubbornness and both came under the porch for the evening. When he later tried to fly under the porch and land where they were, instead of where the other two babies were perched, they ran him off. He ended up perching on the other side of the column from them towards the outside of the porch. I sort of felt sorry for him.
The next night however, there were no babies. Only mom and dad came to roost. Hmmm... guess it was time to make the babies go out on their own? The night after that, neither mom or dad were there, and so I figured the night roosting under my porch was done for this year. I still would go to the dining room window each evening around dusk to see if they were there. Last Tuesday evening, mom was there by herself and she has been there each evening since. I am sure it will be a matter of days that I won't be seeing her any longer as well. But, there is always next year to look forward to...
The Blue Chip butterfly bush on my deck is finally in full bloom, and I looked out the other night to see a new visitor enjoying the blooms. I'd never seen an American Lady at my house. Isn't she lovely?
My sister is on a nature forum, and one of the members, Harley Hamm from Oklahoma, posted these photos of a newly hatched baby Killdeer! As you can see, the mom below was doing the broken-wing display to try to get him away from her baby and unhatched eggs! It always amazes me how they will just plop a "nest" and deposit their eggs right on the ground.
Thanks Harley for allowing me to share your wonderful photos here!
A nice map of Ireland was provided by CIE in our travel packets and so I marked our route with a yellow highlighter and labeled the main stopping areas. We started in Dublin the first night, then the next morning, made our way down towards the Rock of Cashel and Blarney. We then headed to Killarney where we spent the night and the next morning did the Ring of Kerry tour. After another evening in Killarney, we then headed north, across the River Shannon on a ferry, and went to the Cliffs of Moher. After spending the afternoon there, we headed to Bunratty for the castle banquet. After an evening there, we made our way across the center of the country back towards Dublin, stopping at the Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens on the way. One more evening in Dublin, and we were on our way to the airport and home.
Many people asked me if I thought five days would be long enough. It was, for us. I felt that we were able to do so much and see so much, and the time did not pass by quickly. The GSM phone from Verizon worked like a charm, and we were able to stay in touch with home regularly, which was important for Sam. He had a hard time with my leaving, but he and Dad did just fine. It was nice to be so missed. I quickly realized that had we not gone ahead and gone, we probably would not have been able to. My mom's advancing arthritis and vision issues (Fuch's Dystrophy) would more than likely have made it impossible for her to enjoy this trip as much as she did, with all the walking, stairs, and such. I was so proud of her and her stamina. It was so very special to be able to spend such quality time with her and to share in something that has been a long time dream for us both.
I can not say enough about CIE Tours, and have already written a letter to their President. Many times, you see a glossy brochure and yet the reality never lives up to the description. This was one instance where our journey was everything we were told it would be, and more. We were so well taken care of, our hotel accommodations were first class, and the food was delicious. We never would have seen all we saw, nor learned all we did had we not done a coach tour. It was fun to meet so many people from all over the US, and to share the wonder and magic of Ireland.
The people of Ireland were so patient, kind, and joyful. We never met a rude person on our journey, and most times, were amazed at how the general attitude is one of everyone working together. No horns honking, no impatience at all. There was so much pride evident in each little village we traveled through, with beautiful flowers planted everywhere, along with smiles and waves as we passed by on the road. The Irish are a proud people, and love their tradition and heritage, and so want to share that passion with visitors.
And the scenery... I wish the photos even gave an inkling of just how amazing it was to be standing on a hillside surrounded by a panorama that literally would leave you speechless. I told my friends here that when you see my photos, it's almost as if you are only looking through a paper towel roll, and can only appreciate what the lens can capture. When such glorious landscape fully engulfs you, the experience is almost a spiritual one. Many times, my Mom and I just stood there in silence and then would turn towards one another without speaking, knowing the unspoken words were, "Just look at this."
It now all seems like a dream. But, I will have my photos and memories to recall forever. I hope you've enjoyed my view of what will certainly be the journey of a lifetime for me and my Mom. Thanks for indulging me.
From an Ireland website: "St. Fiachra's Garden is the newest development at the Irish National Stud at Tully, Co. Kildare. Named in honour of the 6th century Irish monk who is the patron saint of gardeners, this garden is a natural oasis of woodlands, waterfalls, and wetlands, along with aquatic plants, islands, and greenery of all types.
Designed to recreate the serene environment that inspired the spirituality of the 6th and 7th century monastic movement in Ireland, the layout includes a sunken oak forest, filled with 5,000-year-old bog oak from the Bog of Allen; 1200 tons of rocks and boulders from the west of Ireland; a splendid statue of St. Fiachra seated on a lakeside peninsula; and three replicas of early monastic cells or beehive huts.
Within the main cell is a unique flood-lit subterranean garden, featuring glass-shaped rocks and plants such as ferns and orchids, lit by fiber optics and fashioned as a Millennium centerpiece by Waterford Crystal."
It was a beautiful stroll through these gardens, and we enjoyed seeing all the lush water features and stone paths.
There were plenty of Mallards and even some Swans enjoying this beautiful waterfall pond.
Then, we headed to the Japanese Gardens, created for the original owner of the property.
From the Stud website: "The gardens were devised and subsequently presented to the nation by Colonel Hall-Walker, later Lord Wavertree, a wealthy businessman, orientalist and successful albeit capricious horse-breeder who had established a stud at Tully. He imported a shipload of plants, bonsai, stone ornaments and even a geisha house from Japan and employed a Japanese landscape designer, TassaEida, who travelled to Ireland with his wife and two sons and lived at Kildare from 1906 to 1910, to supervise the work of forty Irish gardeners."
There is a restaurant adjacent to the gardens and it was the first stop on our journey where I actually heard and saw some birds close-up. The birds had learned that there are morsels to be had out on the deck where people eat, and were not shy about coming to the railing.
We got to see this very cute Robin along with the Chaffinch below. Oh, to have been able to see even half of the birds on the garden birds board which was at the entrance to the gardens!
This was our last stop before heading back to Dublin for our last evening in Ireland. We ate at a really lovely restaurant in a village outside our hotel and called it an early night as we had to catch the 5:20 AM shuttle to the airport the next morning. Out trip to Ireland was concluded and we had so many memories to last us a lifetime. I hope you've enjoyed the journey as well.